Melbourne -100th Birthday

Mr. David McCormack, 

THIS IS YOUR LIFE

as told by daughter, Pauline:

David was born in Euroa, Victoria on 29th September 1920 to George and Ellen McCormack.  He was the third son of four boys and a girl, who sadly died before she was born.  Dad always told us that Nana never got over losing her daughter and would visit the cemetery every Friday for her whole life to put fresh flowers on her grave. 

David had an idyllic life in the country.  He loved everything about growing up there and spent as much time as he could outdoors, fishing, rabbiting, and playing sport with his brothers and friends.  David attended St. John’s Primary School, where he made many friends.  He still remembers many of his classmates and past students and has been known to remind people of memories they had long forgotten about these days and to tell stories to the townsfolk about their relatives.  His favourite times at school were the times he spent playing football and cricket.  He remembers the times the nuns would take the students to a nearby country school to play football.  The nuns enjoyed catching up with their fellow sisters and left the boys to organise their own matches.  I asked Dad once what colour their football jumpers were, and he said none of the jumpers matched, the boys just grabbed what they could find.  They umpired themselves and had a ball until the sisters were ready to go home.  David wasn’t too keen on his studies and he recalls the time when the polio pandemic hit Euroa and all schools were shut for eight months.  Dad said that he never really settled back at school after that time away, so he left and got a job in a shearing shed, where his father was a shearer around the Riverina area.

Again, David enjoyed this time, as he loved being outdoors and it kept him fit.  He spent his weekends playing football and was thrilled when the senior team were short of a player and picked him to play his first game with them.  He was excited and told his mum, who didn’t share his excitement for it meant playing against big, solid men and he was only a slightly built 16 year old.  She told Dad to stay out of the packs and just run around the edges but not him!  He said he saw the ball coming and a pack were forming so he went in and shut his eyes as he leapt up and surprisingly, he felt the ball stick in his hands and after that he said he was hooked.  He went on to play with the seniors on a regular basis.  David eventually got invited to go play for Fitzroy football club and things were looking promising until he ran into the goal post one day and broke his kneecap.  Sadly, Dad didn’t know that he was expected to turn up for training even if injured and they delisted him.  I asked him why he didn’t tell them he didn’t know that, and he said he was too shy to tell them! 

When the Second World War broke out, Dad was keen to join up for the Airforce but when they came to recruit airmen, they would only take the boys who had got to a certain standard in school so this ruled him out.  He eventually joined the army but after a series of physical tests, he was ruled unfit, as David had been born with flat feet and couldn’t march properly.  They were worried that if captured, Dad would not be able to keep up.  Dad always said he knew his determination would have carried him through although sadly the boys he signed up with were ambushed in Papua New Guinea and not many of them survived. 

It was during the war that Dave met Joan, a girl from Ascot Vale who used to come up to Euroa on the weekends to visit her family who had been evacuated to Euroa, as they lived near the ammunitions factory and there were fears that this would be the first place to be bombed if Australia got invaded.  It was during these visits that Dave and Joan caught up at the local dances and they hit it off.

They married in Melbourne at the end of the war and lived around Fitzroy for a while.  Dave and Joan welcomed a son, John, and Dave found work as a postman.  After a few different moves, Dave’s desire to return to country life took him and John back to Euroa where they settled for a few years and their daughter Judy was born.

When their son John started in Prep, the school realised that he was very bright, so they moved him up to Grade One.  One of the nuns commented to Joan that John was quite exceptionally intelligent and she feared that life in a small country town might stifle his potential, so David and Joan made the decision to move back to Melbourne.  They settled in Kingsbury and had two more sons, Peter and Stephen and a daughter, Pauline.

David picked up work as a postman at Reservoir Post Office, where he worked up until he retired.  David and Joan raised their family and David spent his days umpiring for the VFL and coaching local teams.  He loved every minute of it and inspired many young boys to give football a go.   Several years ago, a family member ran into one of these boys whose family had immigrated to Australia.  Dad saw this boy running home from school one day and couldn’t get over how quick he was, so he approached the boy’s parents and asked if he could join the local footy team.  His parents took some convincing, but they eventually agreed and this boy was forever grateful to Dad because it gave him a freedom and lifelong love of the game that he felt he wouldn’t have had without Dad’s intervention.

Without a doubt, football was Dad’s great love and he got such joy watching his sons play and he was immensely proud when Peter was drafted to Collingwood in 1976.  Sadly, this joy was overshadowed a couple of weeks later when his youngest son Stephen was killed, in a cliff fall whilst on a school picnic.  Stephen stood on a rock for another student to pass by and the rock gave way and took him over the edge of a cliff resulting in his death.  This tragedy affected our family in a huge way and it was compounded due to the fact it happened a couple of weeks before Judy’s wedding but Joan and David managed to support the whole family as we struggled with our grief and our joy and they were an inspiration to us all.  This tragedy brought us all together in a way that has helped us to stay close through the joys and sadness’s in life. 

After Joan passed away in 2005, David moved back to Euroa and lived there for a few years which he enjoyed. Eventually his hearing loss kept him isolated from the family, so he moved back to Melbourne to live in Latrobe Retirement Village before moving to St. Joseph’s when he needed a bit more support. 

Celebrating David’s 100th birthday has been such a highlight and such a lovely thing to look forward to during these tough times.  There have been a few hiccups along the road and there were times we doubted that he would make it but here he is!!  The joy that we shared in celebrating his birthday was a testament to the kindness and care that is provided at St. Joseph’s and we will always be grateful for the special effort that everybody made, to make this day special for him.  We are truly grateful and appreciative of every single person’s effort. 

Thank you so much to one and all love from David, John, Judy, Peter, and Pauline and all the McCormack Family.

Dave at footy - with his wife-  and at 100

A much reduced birthday celebration due to pandemic 

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